'We wanted our voices heard': Sask. teens want to play hockey again
SASKATOON -- The Saskatchewan Female Under 18 AAA Hockey League has produced a video about players’ thoughts on the cancelation of competitions for minor sports teams.
The video is posted on social media and tags Premier Scott Moe.
“Lots of girls said their mental health was affected and lots of girls are losing their chance to play post-secondary now. They’re losing a whole year of growing and scouting,” said Rhea Peterson of the Prince Albert Northern Bears.
Peterson says the video isn’t just about female hockey players, it’s a statement to inform the government what a season cancellation means for all minor hockey players.
“We wanted our voices heard and if nothing changes at least we can say we tried,” Peterson said.
The hockey season was postponed Nov. 26, 2020 when a Public Health Order banned competition for team sports until Jan. 29, 2021. Hockey teams are allowed on the ice to practise but with eight players at a time. They are not allowed to play games against other teams.
Northern Bears coach Jeff Willoughby says the league could be considered the junior ranks for female hockey similar to the WHL and SJHL. He says this year due to the pandemic, college team scouts are relying on the word of coaches.
“I’ve been sending more video to coaches with the lack of games,” he said. “Hockey could look different forever. We don’t know.”
They province says the COVID-19 Business Response Team continues to work with sports organizations like the Saskatchewan Hockey Association to bring back competition and game play as soon as conditions allow.
“We all want sports to be able to return safely. The government of Saskatchewan recognizes how hard these restrictions have been on everyone,” the province said in a statement.
“The best advice for all citizens is to follow public health restrictions fully so that we can reduce the number of cases in the province.”
Peterson is in her final season with the league and has a scholarship to attend Adrian College in Michigan and play division one hockey in the American Collegiate Hockey Association.
“As of right now, they’ve postponed the season. There is hope that we might play again but there are no guarantees,” Peterson said.
Other players who contributed to the video include 18-year-old Paris Oleksyn. She’s committed to the University of Saskatchewan Huskies team after she graduates high school.
“It’s pretty devastating not being able to play games the way we wanted to. Without hockey the motivation kind of goes down a little bit. And focusing on other things like school and your studies is a struggle,” she said.
The Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) is also postponed. President Bill Chow says he’s been told by the province that resuming game play is dependent on COVID 19 positive case numbers.
“We have a committee together and we are putting a proposal together to seek the possibility of starting when March comes around that's all the we can do - we're trying,” said Chow.
SJHL playoff spots are usually determined by March. One of the challenges with a delayed hockey season is the melting of natural ice and the league having to pay for artificial ice, he said.